Officers must now call an ambulance if a suspect can't breathe

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee police officers are now supposed to call an ambulance if a suspect says he cannot breathe. It's the direct result of the Derek Williams case.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn announced on Thursday, October 18th that a change had taken place in police procedures. On Friday, October 19th, Chief Flynn reiterated that change during a city budget hearing.

"Doesn't matter. They say they can't breathe, summon an ambulance. Let the ambulance make the evaluation. Don't you make the evaluation," said Flynn.

Flynn acknowledges this will mean more ambulances called out to squads. His department estimates it costs the city an average of $250 per medical call. Insurance typically covers the expense. But for those who are indigent, there is no recoverable cost.

The change in police procedure took effect three weeks ago on September 26th. Aside from financial concerns, there is also the possibility of stretching fire department resources thin. However, Milwaukee Fire Department Assistant Chief Dan Lipski says so far, so good.

"The data that I've reviewed, and we still have data coming in, we have not seen any sort of significant increase in our call outs in any of our significant categories," said Lipski.

Though the city may spend more on ambulance calls, Alderman Michael Murphy says the city stands to save money on legal and liability fees.